Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Modest Conservation Contribution

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Today I brought my own brown paper shopping bags to my local food market. I thought it might be weird having the bagger fill up my Trader Joe's and Whole Foods bags at the neighborhood grocery, but she didn't bat an eye when I dumped the bags on the counter. In addition to the ecological impact, I realized a couple of further benefits: I was able to carry $80 worth of groceries in one trip (two bags per hand). Also, the guilt I have felt for using plastic so much was reduced substantially. I use as few clear plastic bags for produce as possible, often limiting the number of, say, green peppers I buy so I don't have to feel like I'm being a nuisance when I check out. My goal is to stop using those altogether if I can think of a way to do so.

For years I have despised those idiotic little plastic bags that have become ubiquitous at supermarkets. When they still offered a choice between paper and plastic I chose the former but it seems like paper was phased out at least five years ago in my area. So I've stored up hundreds of those floppy whites and periodically schlepped them back to the store for alleged recycling. But I knew all along that there had to be a better way. I've just not made the effort to find and implement it until now.

The church where I work on Sundays is selling re-usable shopping bags made and distributed by I clicked on over there and ordered ten bags (they're kind of on the small side) and expect them to be delivered any day. When they are, it's no more plastic OR paper for me at the grocery store.

It is not like I haven't been aware of conservation. When I was in high school in the early 70's (yikes!) I recall using the same paper lunch bag all year, or at least until it was too ragged to hold my PBJ and apple. One of the reasons I chose to only sell downloadable mp3s on my jazz education website is that there is no ecological impact in terms of CDs, printing, paper, shrink wrap or shipping materials. But, for whatever reason, it took the little bag from church to wake me up to this shopping strategy.

Far be it for me to proselytize, but if you're looking for a way to do your part, this is easy. I've been driving less, drinking filtered tap water instead of bottled and recycling; adding reusable grocery bags to the repertoire is no big deal.